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  • The Unprofessional Ministry

    Posted on May 31st, 2012 rhonda No comments

    And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:47

     To me, Acts 2:42-47 is a picture of a group of laypeople who became saved, and then did what they could to build a ministry, which prospered.  Clearly, they listened to & studied the teachings of the apostles, but my take-away from this passage is that they took some initiative & took ownership of their young church.

    I have to admit that in some ways, my being a licensed professional has kept me in bondage.  It’s made me territorial.  Laypeople shouldn’t be doing the type of work I do because they’re not “qualified”.  In other ways, my lack of a professional credential has made me passive.  There are things I want to see done in my church; but I haven’t done them because I’m waiting for my pastors to give me the green light.  I didn’t go to seminary – they did.  I was talking to one of my pastors who said, “Let’s start, because if you and I don’t do it, it won’t be done”.

    There is a place for laypersons & professionals to work together.  I’m only a professional in 1 area of my life.  In most situations I’m a layperson.  I think the key, regardless of the situation, is to discern what I can and cannot do.  To figure out where I can be helpful, and where I can’t.  In some situations, people need empathy, and therefore a layperson who has walked in their shoes is more useful than a professional.  In some situations, a particular skill or expertise is required, and that’s when a professional should step in.

  • Poetry

    Posted on May 30th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    You heavens above, rain down righteousness;

    Let the clouds shower it down.

    Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up,

    Let righteousness grow with it;

    I, the Lord, have created it.

    Isaiah 45:8

    I thank God for His poetry and His craftsmanship as a writer.  I read the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, many years before I became a Christian.  Since I wasn’t a Christian, I didn’t have the Holy Spirit to give me Godly understanding, so most of what I read remained a confusing mystery.  Yet, the one thing I was able to appreciate is how beautiful some of the writing is.  Poetry is my word of wisdom for today.

    The poetry of the Bible is just as beautiful as anything Shakespeare wrote.  Sometimes I’m reading the Bible and I’m just struck by a particular phrase and how creative and provocative and rich it is.  Look at Isaiah 45:8.  Several weeks ago, I went to the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden.  I am a city-girl & I love the city; but it was nice being in an environment filled with trees and flowers.  It looked good and smelled good.  It was peaceful.  The crowd was mellow.

    As lovely as the whole scene was, how much lovelier would it be if instead of orchids, salvation spring up from the earth?  How cool would it be if each flower had seeds of salvation?  It’s been raining a lot lately.  What if, instead of water, it rained down righteousness?  I went out without my boots on because I didn’t expect it to rain as heavily has it did.  It poured.  The rain soaked through my sneakers & socks and I walked around with damp feet all day.  If my feet were damp with righteousness, however, I assume it wouldn’t be as difficult for me to walk in His word & in His ways.  Would I want shoes?  Would I want an umbrella?  Now I’m wondering if that’s why, before the fall, Adam & Eve were able to walk around in the Garden naked.

    Thank God.

  • Serenity

    Posted on May 29th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    For you created my inmost being;

    You knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . .

    All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

    Psalms 139:13 & 16

    The serenity prayer has become so much a part of American culture that people don’t really pay attention to it anymore.  I’ve been aware of the prayer for years; but it’s only now that I’m getting how profound it is.

     God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    The Courage to change the things I can, and the

    Wisdom to know the difference.

     I’ve spent a lot of time trying to change things that couldn’t be changed, because I was afraid to change the things I could, foolishly thinking that the immutable was easier to change than the mutable.

    I tried to change me.  I very much believe that people can change, grow and evolve.  God sanctifies us.  I also believe that, like gender & skin color, there are some personality traits that do not change.  He created our inmost being for a purpose.  There are some basics about me that even I cannot change.

    I figured that if I changed myself, I would get a different response from other people; that was my subtle way of changing them.  It didn’t work.  I just stayed in miserable situations longer than I should have.  I was too scared to leave.  It would have been easier for me to leave, but I didn’t realize that.  I was not wise.

    The serenity prayer is not in the Bible; but I think it’s consistent with Christian beliefs.  Serenity is my word of wisdom for today.  Being wise enough to know what you can and cannot do; and having the courage to change the things that you can, will bring you a greater measure of serenity.

  • The Prosperity Gospel

    Posted on May 28th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth:

    righteous men who get what the wicked deserve,

    and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve.

    Ecclesiastes 8:14

     What’s the difference between the prosperity gospel and just believing God’s promises?

    The thing that drew me to the Beginning of Wisdom is that it’s to be used as a forum where we can mentor and help one another grow in our Christian faith.   I guess my word of wisdom for today is discernment, and I need your help in discerning rightly.  Please do use the “comment” section to give me some advice.

    I watch several televangelists.  Many, in varying degrees, talk about believing God for health & prosperity; and they make it seem like all we have to do is know God’s Word, meditate on it, pray it back to God, and then God is obliged us to give us what we want (whether it’s a healing, a job, money to pay a bill, a prospering business, a new house, etc.) because God cannot go back on his word.  They point to all the scriptures which indicate that God will give us anything that we ask, as long as we ask according to His will.  Of course, they say, that it is God’s will for us to be healthy & prosperous, because if we, being wicked, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the Lord do for us?  One pastor, that I have a great deal of respect for, gave a sermon series based on Psalm 92:12-14.  He was making the case that the promise that we will stay “fresh & green” means that we will be healthy, strong, youthful looking, and prosperous; and that we will proper despite the downturn in the economy.  So does that all Christians should have a job, a job that they like, a job that pays well, a business that has a lot of customers; and what does it say about us as Christians if we don’t?

    On the other hand, the saints really suffered.  Even though the accounts are not written about in the Bible, I am told that all the disciples except for John were martyred.  Stephen was martyred.  Paul spent a whole lot of time in jail.  Early Christians were persecuted.  Before he became Paul, Saul was one of their persecutors; and this is all after Christ ascended into heaven.

    So please, let me know, what are the real promises of God?  I look forward to hearing from you all.

  • Training in Righteousness

    Posted on May 27th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness . . .

    2 Timothy 3:16

    An acquaintance introduced me to the Faith & Action Study Bible (New International Version).  Now, it’s the only Bible I read because it includes articles about how to put our faith into action to bring about justice in the world.  My phrase of the day is training in righteousness.  Just to give you an idea of some of the commentaries, I partially quoted “The 13 Shackles”, which is about poverty, below.  (I edited out some things just to keep this post relatively short.) Whether you agree or not, it’s at least thought provoking.

    The 13 Shackles

    “Poverty has more to do with relationships than resources, with power than possessions.  The fall resulted in alienation from God and distorted relationships, out of which arise oppression, conflict, apathy, isolation, prejudice, moral confusion, and the deprivations and hardships we call poverty.  Poverty occurs in three dimensions – relationships with God (spiritual), humanity (social), and the environment (physical).

    The gospel alone addresses the relationship issues that keep people shackled in poverty.  At least 13 specific shackles bind the poor:

    1. Power elites limit their options.
    2. Society’s mainstream views the poor as non-factors
    3. The community of the poor isolates them from the rest of society.
    4. Professional caregivers fail to genuinely love those they are hired to serve.
    5. The poor live in physical isolation from the rest of society.
    6. The poor live in areas vulnerable to natural disasters.
    7. The poor live in increasing dependence on an environment in decline.
    8. The poor are rendered physically weak by their living conditions.
    9. The poor are fed distorted interpretations of history by the powerful.

    10. The poor falsely believe there is no hope for meaningful change.

    11. The poor develop the habit of equating their identity with their poverty.

    12. The poor tolerate abuse because they think it’s normal.

    13. The poor are in bondage to rebellious spiritual forces.

    The Good News is that Jesus came to proclaim freedom and health to all people.  When we understand the gospel in its full breadth and all its dimension, we see that God has a plan to reverse the effects of the fall.  When put into practice by men and women of faith, it brings justice for the oppressed, healing for the weak, compassion for the needy, and reconciliation for the alienated.”

    Jayakumar Christian, author

    Country Director of World Vision India

    Page 1182





  • The Lord Sets Prisoners Free

    Posted on May 26th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    The Lord sets prisoners free . . .

    Psalm 146:7


    Actual, physical slavery still exists in the world; and it’s not just something that happens in developing countries, it exists in the United States.  It is not a thing of the past, but happens right now, in 2012.  There is work slavery & sex slavery.

    My word of wisdom for the day is education.  Foolishly, I once thought that when African Americans gained their freedom in the United States, that no slavery existed.  In fact, modern day slavery is worse than it was when African Americans were in bondage. Slavery is 1 among the top 3 organized crimes in the world.  In fact, drug dealers are moving into the slavery business because it’s more profitable.  Once you sell a drug, it’s gone; but you can keep working or renting out people.  It’s embarrassing to be that ignorant.  As Christians, we serve a God of Justice who wants us to carry out justice, in tangible ways, towards others; but how can we bring about justice, if we don’t even know what’s going on?

    There are several organizations out there working towards justice on this front.

    American Anti-Slavery Group –

    Girls Educational & Mentoring Services –

    International Justice Mission –

    Polaris Project –

    Salvation Army’s Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking –


    Whatever issue you’re passionate about, I encourage you to follow it so that you can do your part in bringing about justice in the world.



  • Shelter in the Rain

    Posted on May 25th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “Wisdom is a shelter, as money is a shelter,

    but the advantage of knowledge is this:

    that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.”

    Ecclesiastes 7:12

     Joseph Prince has a teaching on meditation.  He explains that it’s important that we take a verse & literally mutter it throughout the day.  I decided to take his advice.  I wrote the verse above on an index card and put it in my pocket so that I could refer to it throughout the day.

    I tend to be a worry-wart, and money, or the lack of it, is one of the things I worry about a lot.  Joseph is right, that the longer I spend time chewing over a verse, the more I get out of it.  When I first read over it, I thought that God was putting wisdom & money on the same footing.   Then I realized that the edge goes to wisdom since it does more than provide shelter, but it will preserve my life – not money.  The best thing about the verse is that, while it’s hard to get money, or the means to make money, God gives wisdom.  Once we get money, we can lose it.  Once we get wisdom, we cannot lose it.

    I guess my word of wisdom for today is “shelter”.  Housing is the 1st thing I think of when I see the word shelter.  Wisdom & money are both; but I guess the Bible is saying that wisdom is a stronger shelter than money, because it preserves life.  In all honesty, the basis of all my worrying is a worry about my life, specifically the health, length & quality of my life.  I need a shelter, and if wisdom is a better & stronger shelter, I should spend more time pursuing that than money.

    Where I live, it’s been rainy all week, and we’re promised more rain today.  We need shelter especially in those times.  I praise God for His shelter.


  • Consolation

    Posted on May 24th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.

    No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

    Job 2:13


    As of this writing, I’m going through a really difficult situation, which I feel a lot of anger, anxiety, and shame about.   Since the situation unfolded, I’ve gotten varying levels of responses from different people.  Some people were truly comforting, and other people poured salt in the wound.  There are a lot of people I haven’t told, because I already know they will pour salt.

    Sympathy is my word of wisdom for this day.  That’s the spirit in which Job’s friends visited him (Job 2:11-13).  They just went to sit with him in a show of support & comfort.  They got into trouble when they opened their mouths to speak.  I started to ask myself why, in times of great trouble, there are some people I tell immediately, and there are others that I inform after the event is over.  I realize that the people I talk to immediately are the people who console me by letting me know that God is in control and that, ultimately, He will take care of me.

    The people I avoid fall into a couple of categories.  First, there are people who want me to relate the details of the disturbing event.  They can’t do anything to help me, but they want to make me re-live the trauma by making me re-tell it, for no other purpose but to satisfy their curiosity.

    The 2nd category of people make me feel condemned.  They pick over the details and let me know what I did wrong in the situation; or they let their own pessimism & fear overwhelm them.  They look into my future & give me gloom & doom reports.

    The 3rd class of folks are the people who want to give advice.  I wish they would trust me to ask for advice if I wanted it.  Sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I’m not ready to absorb & act on it.  Sometimes I already have adequate information.  Sometimes I feel like I have better advisors than the person who is so eager to share.

    I praise God, because at least through this ordeal, He’s teaching me how to be sympathetic to others.

  • Accepting My Lot

    Posted on May 23rd, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in toilsome labor, under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot.  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.”

    Ecclesiastes 5:18-19

     Over the last few months, God has been bringing different people into my life to give me my word of wisdom for today – accept.

    People have been teaching me the importance of trying to accept life the way it is.  They haven’t been telling me not to have ambition or to try to do and get and be more, but if none of my striving accomplishes anything, be happy with what I’ve got.  Grasping that concept has been really hard, but I think I’m getting it.  I have realized that every time I look at a situation in my life and just try to accept it – try to realize that I cannot change anything – I gain some measure of peace.

     “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

    the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

    and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

    Isaiah 61:1 & 3

    I’ve often heard people talk about “letting go” of anger & resentment.  I don’t experience anger as an object packed in a small box that I’m carrying in my hands and can set down easily.  I’ve experienced anger more oppressive than that.  It’s like trudging along wearing a heavy overcoat in a storm.  I would like to take off the extra weight (made heavier by snow, sleet & rain), but I can’t.  The more I can accept, the more peace I have; and that’s like coming indoors & being able to take off the overcoat.

    Acceptance helps me exchange the spirit of despair for a garment of praise, and I thank God for that.


  • Struck!

    Posted on May 22nd, 2012 rhonda No comments

    As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

    “Who are you, Lord?”  Saul asked.

    “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

    Acts 9:3-5


    A former supervisor of mine used to say, “You can’t change your thinking with your own thinking.”

    An acquaintance and I were talking about weight loss, and she said that she prayed that God would strike her with abstinence (meaning avoiding ingredients that would cause her to binge, like sugar).  When Saul got struck, he was blinded for 3 days.

    I’ve been struck, at least twice.  The first time was when He prompted me to come to Him.  The second was when I was struck w/abstinence.  That’s my word of wisdom for today – struck.  Having God strike you is a life-changing experience for the better.  Somehow, the culture teaches us just the opposite.  When someone tells a lie, the person next to them will joke and say, “let me step aside, because I don’t want to accidentally get hit by the lightening bolt coming your way”.  First of all, God does nothing by accident.  If He means to hit you, He will; and there’s no such thing as collateral damage when God decides to strike.

    Putting aside the other pieces of false doctrine for a second – we should all want to be struck by God’s lightening bolt!  That lightening will give us all a better life.  The things that I couldn’t do before, suddenly I could.  Change your beliefs, change your emotions/thinking.  Change your emotions & thinking, change your actions.  The Lord changed my beliefs, setting off a chain reaction in which I magically lost 68 lbs, whereas before I couldn’t lost 5 lbs.

    I’m praying & waiting for that 3rd strike.